New Mexico Coalition to Enhance Working Lands (NMCEWL) is a network of groups and individuals whose purpose is to support and enhance ongoing efforts to improve the health and productivity of New Mexico working lands that support agriculture and the environment. Our focus is to increase soil health, biodiversity, and hydrologic function wherever possible.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 4th Annual NMCEWL Summit is going to be a virtual event. We have all learned a great deal throughout 2020 about engaging and collaborating in virtual spaces, and are grateful for the work so many of our partners have done to make those spaces more accessible and sustainable.
The 2021 Summit will be held via Zoom, and will aim to be a place we can talk, share, and vision together for the upcoming year. Because of feedback we've heard from many individuals and organizations, we do not want to contribute to Zoom and virtual meeting overload, and therefore are hosting the Summit in an alternative format.
This year, presentations from individuals and organizations are being recorded prior to the day of the summit to be made available as podcast episodes! Each episode will highlight a unique collaboration at the intersection of agriculture and conservation in New Mexico. We are encouraging Summit participants to listen to the episodes prior to the Summit--in the car, during your lunch, or whenever it is most convenient for you! Episodes will be accompanied by several questions to guide thinking and promote conversation around successful collaborations in the state, and to reflect on our own work.
On April 21, we will gather together to share reflections, ideas, and visions for how we can continue to collaborate and work across our various sectors to positively impact the collective efforts to enhance working lands in New Mexico.
Ep. 14 Eugene Pickett - Advocating for small farmers and ranchers in New Mexico
Eugene Pickett knows farm disaster first hand—his farm and house in Belen, NM, along with those of his neighbors, were flooded out several years back, and he tried to access resources to help rebuild—which wasn’t easy. Now he serves as an advocate for several organizations at the state and national level, where he works with coalitions to address deep-seated historical discrimination and to preserve traditional, soil-friendly agricultural practices.
Ep.13 Melanie Kirby: Place, Power, and Purpose: Understanding pollinators on western landscapes
Bees date back over 10,000 years on the American continent and are vital to the health of almost every bite we eat, but today they face threats from industrialization and habitat fragmentation. Melanie Kirby is a decades-long beekeeper, a scientist, a member of Tortugas Pueblo, and extension educator for the land-grant program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Her diverse background gives a perspective on bees and pollinators that brings together Western and indigenous perspectives, and that can help everyone from farmers to urban gardeners play a role in the revitalization of this keystone species.
Ep. 12 Clinton Wilson and Dan Waldvogle - The Silent Stigma: Mental Health in Farming Communities
The suicide rate among farmers is alarmingly high—and yet there is widespread reluctance to talk about topics like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. A new program called AgWell is helping farmers, ranchers, agriculture workers, and their families, get the help they need—and to learn how to help others in their community. We talk to Clinton Wilson, program director of AgWell, and Dan Waldvogle of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, which has been instrumental in founding the program.
Ep. 11 Retta Breugger and Harrison Topp - Planning for Drought on Drying Western Landscapes
Though we can’t control how much moisture the land gets in any year, we can made good decisions about how to respond to a variety of scenarios—and this helps farmers and ranchers to survive both practically and emotionally. We talk to Retta Breugger, Regional Specialist in Rangeland Management at Colorado State University Extension, and Harrison Topp, Membership Director for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and the operator of Topp Fruits in Paonia, Colorado. RMFU helps farmers, ranchers, and many others involved in agriculture to strategize for drought, and to find technical and financial assistance to carry out their plans.
Ep. 10 Isabelle Jenniches - How to incentivize healthy soil, food, and farmers
Isabelle Jenniches co-founder of the New Mexico Healthy Soil Working Group, and her mission for many years has been to create networks of organizations and individuals working together to advance soil health—and thereby improve the health of ecosystems, food, people, and climate. She brings a vision of healthy rangelands and croplands across the state, and land management drawing from both traditional and innovative practices.
Ep. 9 Kendal Chavez - Feeding hungry New Mexicans with New Mexican-grown food
Currently New Mexico imports 98% of the food we eat, and exports 95% of the food we grow. Kendal Chavez is the Food and Hunger Coordinator in the office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, and her mission is to address food insecurity while protecting New Mexico’s agricultural resources, like water and soil—and keeping food in state.